A small bag of tinned vegetables and candy canes is as festive as the season will get for Zahra Kakavand.
The Iranian refugee is among the growing number of asylum seekers in the capital needing help with food and shelter over the holidays.
It won't be her first Christmas spent in Australia, but Ms Kakavand is hoping it may be a cheerier one with a food hamper from UnitingCare Kippax.
"They helped me with food, with clothes," she said.
"I don't have enough to live on."
Refugees and their families are an increasing part of the client base for services such as UnitingCare Kippax, according to executive officer Meg Richens.
Ms Richens said the organisation was predicting a 15 per cent increase in demand over the Christmas period, following year-on-year growth.
"Last year we had a 40 per cent increase in demand," she said.
"The year before that was a 30 per cent increase."
Ms Richens said the organisation fed about 600 families throughout the holiday period and helped agencies such as Canberra Refugee Support, which has 30 full-time clients and about 100 more sporadically.
Demand over the Christmas period has also been increasing at other agencies, including St Vincent de Paul.
The charity recorded a 12 per cent increase in calls for help in the approach to Christmas, receiving 850 requests throughout November compared with 703 during the same period last year.
A St Vincent de Paul spokeswoman said the charity assisted 2550 families across Canberra and Goulburn throughout October to December in 2012, but were expecting figures to surge this year.
"Given the increase in requests for help through our call centre in November, it is expected that there will be an increase in assistance provided across the Christmas 2013 period," she said.
The charity provided more than $191,550 in financial assistance across the region last year, but donations of funds and food from the public has been decreasing, according to the ACT Council of Social Service.
Director Susan Heylar said a change in government and uncertainty about public service jobs had translated into wariness about donating.